Public Lands

Where Are They Now?

Remember Trump’s appointees — Pruitt, Zinke, and the rest? Here’s where they went afterwards.

Trump’s environmental appointees were a motley crew, many lacking in relevant expertise; others with shaky ethical standards. While in office, they were daily sources of torment for environmentalists. Where are they now?  For most, being in the cabinet has been a stepping stone to nowhere. Here’s the Trump crew and their last known whereabouts. David …

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The climate bill and oil and gas leasing

Provision in big climate bill that mandates oil and gas leasing on federal lands has limited reach

The big news in climate policy this past week was Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) signing off on a deal with the Democratic Senate Majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on climate investments – the bill is catchily called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  I’ll take a look at the …

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Protecting the federal estate

Understanding the Property Clause’s location in Article IV clarifies the power of Congress and the federal government to protect public lands

In my previous blog post, I discussed how the location of the Property Clause in Article IV can help answer key debates about congressional versus executive power under the Clause, as well as federal versus state power under the Clause.  Here I want to draw on the principles I developed in the prior blog post: …

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Taking Article IV Seriously

How “horizontal federalism” can help us understand federal power over the public lands

Can the President unilaterally end fossil fuel leasing on federal lands?  Or does this policy decision require Congressional intervention?  Can the President unilaterally terminate existing National Monuments that protect federal public lands from development?  Or does this policy decision also require Congressional intervention?  Does federal law preempt state law on federal lands?  Or does the …

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Our Common Ground

New book on history of federal public lands is an essential contribution

America’s public lands are a national, and even international, treasure.  Over a quarter of the United States is owned and managed by the federal government.  Public lands provide recreational opportunities for all Americans.  They provide valuable habitat for species and ecosystems.  They provide important natural resources, such as timber and minerals, that are both important …

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Clarifying the Congressional Review Act

The Ninth Circuit rules on the preclusive effect of a CRA disapproval in a wilderness protection case.

Soon after Trump took office, Republicans used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn sixteen Obama-era regulations. If they win control of the government in 2024, they’ll undoubtedly do the same thing to Biden regulations. It behooves us, then, to understand the effect of these legislative interventions. A Ninth Circuit ruling last week in a …

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Before Yellowstone: The Arkansas Origin of National Parks

In a forgotten incident, Congress set aside Hot Springs in 190 years ago.

The origins of the national park system is usually traced back Lincoln’s 1864 signature of the Yosemite Grant Act.  But Congress had actually had the idea of protecting extraordinary places over thirty years earlier, in Arkansas of all places. Hot Springs isn’t high on the list of American places to see, which may be one …

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Celebrating the Birth of America’s National Park System

Yellowstone–the World’s First National Park–Created 150 Years Ago

  American author, historian and conservationist Wallace Stegner once observed: “National parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than at our worst.” More recently, Ken Burns channeled Stegner in titling Burns’ award-winning PBS documentary, “The National Parks–America’s Best Idea.” The National Park System …

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Can we govern large-scale green infrastructure for multiple water benefits?

Yolo Bypass Aerial View

by Lidia Cano Pecharroman, Christopher Williams, Nell Green Nylen, and Michael Kiparsky

Green infrastructure is increasingly emphasized as an alternative, novel path for water infrastructure. The possibilities are intriguing: Can we transition from a landscape dominated by siloed grey infrastructure (think concrete and steel, constructed for one or a few key outcomes like water supply or flood control) to one that centers natural processes in water infrastructure …

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Painful Tradeoffs

How do we manage the local environmental impacts of the energy transition?

Just before leaving office, the Trump Administration approved a huge lithium mine in Thacker Pass, Nevada. The mine could help supply the U.S. battery industry for decades. It might also impact habitat of the endangered grouse sage, deplete groundwater levels, and threaten the survival of an endangered trout. Local residents have sued to block the …

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